Melissa Mark-Viverito was unanimously elected Wednesday as the new speaker of the New York City Council. She replaces Christine Quinn to become first Latin American to hold citywide office.
“I hope that as young Latinas and Latinos are witnessing this moment, they are able to dream that much bigger and are inspired to work that much harder, because we have broken through one more barrier,” she said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, an ally to Mark-Viverito, played a key role in getting her elected. He lobbied council members urging them to vote for her, citing that they both shared the same values and goals for the city.
In her victory speech Mark-Viverito said her immediate agenda is to help create more affordable housing and improve the lives of those “who have fallen on hard times.” The 44-year-old councilwoman from East Harlem also appealed for unity in the state in order to make it a state of equal opportunities for everyone.
“We unite for a more equal and just New York where everyone, no matter what borough you are from, what neighborhood you were raised in or who your parents are, has equal opportunities,” Mark-Viverito said.
Her rival, councilman Dan Garodnick, gracefully conceded defeat Wednesday and said he was looking forward to working with the new speaker to help her deliver a responsible government to the people of New York.
He also pledged to resolve any rifts that may have been caused by the voting process. “I will do my part to resolve any rifts this process may have caused among our colleagues, and am here to take any steps necessary to help move forward together,” Gorodnick said. He described the new speaker as smart and committed. However, supporters of Gorodnick were not happy with the outcome and accused Mark-Viverito supporters of hardball tactics leading up to the election.
Recently, Mark-Viverito had come under fire in the media for allegedly renting apartments in an East 111th St. building she owns without disclosing her income. She still has yet to release her tax returns.
The post of Speaker is a very influential one. The speaker sets the agenda of the chamber, decides whether a bill can go to the floor for debate and appoints heads of committees.
Image via YouTube